New law aims to fight opioid epidemic - WNEM TV 5

New law aims to fight opioid epidemic

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BAY CITY, MI (WNEM) -

A new law in Michigan aims to fight opioid addiction by requiring doctors to check an opioid registry before prescribing, making it harder for addicts to doctor shop.

While the goal is to reduce and control the flow of opioids across the state, health experts suggest the law could do more harm than good.

Last year, more people died of opioid overdoses than car accidents, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

That is why Lt. Gov. Brian Calley signed a new package of bills this week to reduce the growth of addiction.

"What it's going to try to do is help educate doctors, help prescribe better by checking a database," said William Marronne, medical director for Recovery Pathway.

Marronne works with pain and addiction on a daily basis.

The new bills will require doctors like himself to check a database before prescribing pain killers. He said the database, called MAPS, won't help the larger issue.

"If you look at all the deaths, overdose deaths in Michigan, they're heroin and fentanyl. And those are illicit drugs. Passing a law to force us to mandatory check MAPS, it'll only focus on 20 percent of the problem," Marronne said.

The bills will work to reduce the number of pills doctors order per prescription so there isn't an excess of the drugs once the need for pain killers is over.

According to the MDHHS, in 2015 - for every 100 people - there were about 115 prescriptions for opioids.

Marronne said by limiting the number of pills a doctor can prescribe, it just means people who have an addiction will seek out drugs on the streets.

"Lawmakers think you can take away the opportunity by reducing the amount of prescriptions and people will just stop. But they won't stop. Their brains have been hijacked," Marronne said.

He said the focus should instead be on providing more rehab and pain treatment facilities in the state.

"Prevention was five years ago. This is out of control now," Marronne said.

According to the CDC, drug overdose deaths rose significantly in 2016 to more than 63,000 in the United States. More than 42,000 of those were due to opioids.

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